“Dear Alex,” I’ve been asked more than once, “How did you get so wise?”

I never answer the question because I’m not going to sit here and blow a lot of smoke up my own butt. For one thing, it burns; also, I’m not that limber. And, with the exception of telling stories that relate to particular questions, I don’t really like talking about myself that much. After all, my blog is about you, not me or the other guys.

That said, I’m going to answer the question anyway and talk about myself some more. What? Rules were made to be broken.

If I am wise – and I’m not saying I am; so much of what we do here is common sense–but if I am, it is because of three things. One, I’ve been around the block a few times. I have rashes older than some of you. With age comes experience and wisdom, or so they say. Two, I grew up with a wise father and married a woman much wiser than I will ever be. Three, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life – a LOT. And maybe you’ve noticed that nothing imparts wisdom quicker than living out the consequences of your screwups. We learn a lot about life from the bottom of our shoe while we kick ourselves repeatedly in the ass.

Wise or not, I have learned things about life, many by making the wrong choices, some by making the right ones. Here are a few that you might find helpful.

99% of what you’re worried about right now, you won’t even remember a year from now.

Most people who hurt you do so unintentionally. Think about that before you retaliate intentionally.

Pay a little extra for the good stuff. It’s worth it.

Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

If your gut says someone is wrong for you, don’t let your mind talk you into it. Hold out for what you want.

Things that are a myth: short cuts, quick fixes, sure things, easy money, luck.

The hardest thing you will ever do is raise a child. However hard you think it is, multiply that by ten. Now multiply that by 100. That’s how hard it is. Times two.

Vacations are an investment in your mental health, and worth every penny you spend.

Good friendships are hard to make and should be even harder to break.

Honesty is NOT the best policy if the truth will hurt someone. Sometimes it’s better to lie.

You will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.

Devote yourself to helping someone else. I was a Big Brother for 12 years and it changed two lives–his and mine.

Give people the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to.

Haters gonna hate. Ignore them.

The causes of arguments are quickly forgotten, but harsh words spoken in anger are remembered forever.

Things you never want to rush into: marriage, having a child, buying a house, starting a fight, an unfamiliar Indian restaurant, a cave.

It you can’t say something nice, STFU.

You cannot change a person’s nature. Don’t waste time and energy trying to do so. Accept people for who they are.

Life is too short to spend it in a job you hate. Find a way out.

Life is also too short to spend around people who bring you down.

Be kind to yourself. You are human–we make mistakes. It’s how we learn. Let it go. Tomorrow is another day.

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